Evolutionary Biology in Guarda 2024

An international summer school in the Swiss Alps, jointly offered by Basel University and the ETH Zurich

Picture of Guarda

A one week workshop for Master students and early PhD students with a keen interest in evolutionary biology.

Purpose of the workshop

  • To learn to think more clearly and to express your ideas.
  • To gain confidence in your own ideas.
  • To discuss your ideas, reject them if necessary and to find new ones.
  • To learn how to write a grant.
  • To have a focused and sustained conversation about science, to dig deep.
  • To make the doing of science a shared pleasure.
  • To learn interact in a team.

What happens during the workshop:

  • Form working groups of 4-6 people with shared interests.
  • Make a list of things to discuss.
  • Take some time to discuss the list.
  • Faculty members will assist you and will visit groups daily.
  • Ask yourselves, what is a good research question? How can we recognise it?
  • Choose 1-2 promising questions or topics. Discuss them.
  • Write a grant proposal
  • Have it critiqued, revise it, present it in plenary.
  • All of this happens without using the internet (There is limited internet access during the course).


22. - 29. June 2024 (Saturday to Saturday). The course will start on Saturday evening at 19h15 and will end Friday evening. Only candidates will be admitted who are able to participate for the entire course period.


  • Dr. Scott Edwards (Harvard University, USA)
  • Dr. Nancy Moran (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
  • Dr. Howard Ochman (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
  • Dr. Sebastian Bonhoeffer (ETH Zürich)
  • Dr. Dieter Ebert (Uni Basel) (course organizer)


  • Students from ETH Züich and University of Basel in Switzerland (this makes usually about half the course participants)
  • Graduate students from anywhere else (up to a total of about 28)




The town of Guarda is in the Swiss alps at an altitude of about 1650 meters in the Kanton of Grison (Graubünden), the easternmost Swiss Kanton. The nearest larger town is Scuol (Schuls) (about 10 km). The mountains in the area are spectacular. Don't forget your hiking equipment (Shoes! Rain gear!). We will be there at the peak of the alpine flowers (Bring an alpin plant key if you like flowers). Accommodation is in flats with 4 to 8 people (mostly double bed-rooms). People sharing a flat cook for themselves.


By train: there is a train station in the valley close to Guarda (also called Guarda). We will organise a car to pick you up from the station. Inform us about your arrival! If possible try to be there in the afternoon. There is also a footpath from the station to the village which is not very long. The most convenient airport is Zürich. From there it is a 3-4 hour trip by train. We ask all participants to arrive on Saturday and leave on Saturday. Any other arrangements have to be done by yourself. To check train connections within Switzerland go to the Swiss railway schedule (Zürich Airport has its own railway station!). In case you arrive in Guarda on your own, please come to House Nr 89 (This is close to the upper end of the village). House 89 will be the central location for most workshop activities.


Guarda is in the high alps. We might have anything from snow to bright sunshine. Usually the temperatures are springlike, with fairly warm days, but rather cool nights. Houses are not heated!


Every participant has to finance his travel and accommodation him/herself. The costs for accommodation are CHF 490.-. That includes food. This money has to be paid in advance (we have to pay for housing in advance). The exact costs can only be calculated closer to the event, but will not change much. Payment will be possible by money transfer or credit card.


The application window for 2024 is closed, no applications are accepted anymore. The deadline for applications was 28. January 2024.

  • After applying, you will receive an automatic confirmation and we put your name on the applicants list. If you do not receive this automatic confirmation, fill in the form again after 24h. If it still doesn't work, contact Dieter.Ebert at unibas.ch
  • About 4 weeks after the deadline, we will e-mail you whether you can take part in the course or not.
  • Please confirm that you will come.
  • Your place is only guaranteed if you pay the course fee by 20. April. (We'll inform you about the details). If you have to cancel after that date, you will get a refund if we can find a replacement. The reason for this policy is that we have to pay for housing in advance.

If you need a letter of invitation or other help to organize funds, to apply for a visa, or for whatever, let us know. There are no (!) funds available from our side to support your travel or other costs.

If you have questions regarding your application, please contact Yasmin.picton_at_unibas.ch (replace _at_ with @). For other questions, contact Dieter.Ebert_at_unibas.ch

If we receive more applications than we have places, we have to apply some selection rules. The order of application does not play a role for the selection process. People who have taken part in the Guarda workshop before cannot apply again.

Credit points

Each participant receives a course confirmation for 3 credit points (European Credit Transfer System, ECTS).

Read about the history of the Guarda workshop